I had never before been serious about writing. The motivation of my teachers in Grade School fell on deaf ears. Aside from the usual “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”, one teacher encouraged us to write to an imaginary pen pal and that was it.
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In High School, my only claim to “literary acclaim” was a short poem that got published in the school paper, probably due to a lack of contributions from other students. If I remember right, it had to do with trees and flowers, sun, moon, and stars – a poem about love without the writer’s ever experiencing love, being too young to know what love is. To this day, I cannot recall a single line of that initial venture into the literary world.
But the genre I have chosen to follow is that of poetry.
Much later, I wrote a poem about friendship which did get published in a local magazine and I got paid for it. Imagine! I went about starry-eyed for a few days until I realized that countless other writers were more prolific and who wrote with more sophistication.
My grandmother’s birthday was approaching and I decided to dedicate the following poem to her:
You think I do not notice
The thoughtful little things
You often do for me…
I know I do not always
Say “thank you”,
But I do
Notice and value
All those little acts of caring
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That make me love you
The way I do.
The reader will observe that the poem pays attention to rhyme and rhythm.
There is also alliteration and although I didn’t get paid for the piece in cash, there is such a thing as “psychic compensation”. Grandma told me later that my little poem “made her day”. By this time I learned that that writing pays, not necessarily in cash but in personal satisfaction.
Then a favorite cousin of mine was getting married and she wanted her wedding to be special (What bride doesn’t?). She requested me to write a short poem to be included in the wedding invitation and I came up with the following verse entitled “Wedding Day”:
“The child I was is here beneath
The bridal garb I wear. She loved
You then, not knowing love, it seems
And loves you more than ever now.
Fully aware of what love means.”
My cousin was so pleased with what I wrote, she hugged me so hard, she almost cracked my ribs. I am still proud of the poem since it is a far cry from the juvenile verse which came out in the school paper during my teenage years since it triggers the emotions – as one mulls over it.
As I searched for topics to treat in my poetry, my mother passed away. Grief and pain have a way of prodding the pen to write. The first stanza of my “Elegy to My Mother” runs thus:
“Her dusters are folded neatly in the closet
Her sewing box, playing cards and glasses
Still lie at rest on the night table
Together with her prayer book and rosary…
The flowering jasmine vine outside her
Bedroom window breathes fragrance
In the ever-widening margins of memory.”
When the poem was done, I contemplated within myself that a poet need not search far for subjects to write about. These are the objects of everyday living, home, family, and such occurrences in life as death. One will notice that assonance and personification are also put to advantage in the poem. Musing over this first stanza, I discovered that without much effort, I have sized up my mother as a neat, peaceful, prayerful person, contented with what life has to offer and who loves solitude and the fragrance of flowers. The rest of the poem reveals more character traits about her.
And then this writer fell in love. The last two stanzas of the love poem entitled “Prelude to Season’s End” which I have dedicated to my beloved are reproduced below;
“Come dance with me till gypsy violins crescendo
Into raging winds and waters,
And gypsy rainbow ribbons tear
Into a thousand tatters.
Walk with me in silence, Love,
Across a sunlit meadow,
Before the yellow butterflies we seek,
Follow to the edge of the world-
Persephone’s dark shadow…”
There is a reference to music (sound) and color. Symbols, metaphors, and mythology are also put to good use. Then I mull the possibilities and ask myself the question –Have I now really become a poet?
I went on tap the area of Religion as shown by the last two stanzas of my poem about the sinful St. Magdalene and entitled “Easter Encounter”
“But would you deign to show Yourself,
Redeemer, before one the World has blemished?
For whom purity you preach
Remains only a dream cherished
Deep in the heart of Madalene? I
From whom Holiness that You teach
Escapes like a lovely butterfly
Forever out of reach?”
The threat of our planet’s extinction due to global warming has also inspired me to write “My Personal Ecology” (gleaned from John Burrough’s essay on contentment). I composed it to enable others to appreciate Mother Earth more and take better care of her. Here is the latter half of the poem:
“I have faithfully waited upon Earth’s seasons,
Yet never lost sight of her sky overhead
I have called for my soul her moon stars and rainbow
While relishing her meat and bread.
I have climbed her hills and roamed her forests
Sailed her waters and crossed her plains,
I have felt the oppression of heat and cold
The fury of her winds, the drench of her rains
And always, always have experienced beauty
Entering my life – enriching me!”
I hope this piece of writing has sufficiently shown my metamorphosis from an amateur pen-pusher to an amateur poet. I am grateful for this ability to express the experiences I have undergone in verse form. I cannot now imagine myself living in a world devoid of poetry, and music, of course.
Poetry, which has music of its own has colored and enriched my life. I take back what I said about not being serious about writing, especially about the Writing of Poetry.